Since its introduction in 1973 over six million Lancers have been sold.
The Lancer (LA series in Australia, where it was called the Chrysler Valiant Lancer initially) was first launched in 1973 and proved to be particularly successful in rallies, a claim that it retains to this day. At the time of its launch, Mitsubishi had the Minica kei car and the compact Galant, so the Lancer served to fill the gap in the small to lower-medium segment of the growing Japanese market. Twelve models were launched, ranging from a basic 1.2 L sedan to a more powerful rally-derived 1600 GSR model.
There were three body styles, 2-door coupes, 4-door sedans, and a rarely seen 5-door station wagon.
In 1975, the Lancer was complemented by a hatchback coupé called the Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste (also called the Mitsubishi Celeste or Colt Celeste in some markets; it was the Chrysler Lancer Coupé in Australia and the Plymouth Arrow in the United States), and sold with 1.4 L and 1.6 L options (a 2.0 L model was added later).